How many victims are created by the thought that neuroplasticity is out of reach for some? Restated, just how many people with personality disorders or mental illness succumb to caricature simply because they are told that they cannot improve? Anyone that has followed my journey these past four and some years should know how I feel on this subject. Sometimes, the best cure is simply to be told that one exists, and that it is worth fighting for.
Most of my kind are rotting in jail. Why? Because they are mindless automatons that succumb to desire in its purest form. They do not know restraint and they fall to the will of impulsivity. More importantly, they are completely unaware of their own inner workings. They fail to realize that careful dance that must be performed between the chasm and the abyss. Do not misunderstand me, even with self-awareness, the damage inflicted by the disorder can be absolute. My impulsivity and irritability have left me in relative desolation over the years and I am as self-aware as the psychopath comes. I am not foolish enough to inflict sufficient damage upon anyone to result in my incarceration. That does not mean that I do not desire such acts, just that I have the awareness not to succumb to desire.
The image in the mirror is distorted. I can vaguely make out that the reflection before me is, in fact, me. I have changed in many ways since I began psychotherapy four years ago. The creature that only went to session as a means of placating her husband has grown into one that actively seeks ways to better herself. What started as a journey to understand one’s depression turned into much more, and the bigger picture had to be revealed for any progress on any front (intrapersonal or interpersonal) to be had. All of that said, there are demons that cannot be shaken and all progress is relative. The only cure-all is the realization that the individual can ultimately create change. All of us have the capacity to change, though it would be a lie to state that we can expect total change in any form.
Readers will often ask me about the diagnostic process as it relates to psychopathy. I must reiterate that my journey is abnormal; I was given the Psychopathy Checklist – Revised outside of the walls of a prison. In order to receive my diagnosis of ASPD and a confirmation of psychopathy, the stars had to align just right. I needed a therapist that was willing to challenge the way that I viewed the world and myself and my own dumb luck to achieve such a step in finding out what lies behind my mask.
The psychopath is only as “true” as the clinician’s skill in diagnosing. Diagnosis of inexact conditions via inexact science should always be taken with a grain of salt. There is always the possibility that a false positive was recorded. Now, if sufficient information is available to the professionals giving out diagnoses, the likelihood of false positives is lessened, but I would argue they can never be truly ruled out. I am a skeptic by nature and I am deeply skeptical of anything held as absolute truth. I would be lying if I said that in the past 18 months that I have not challenged the PCL-R results of the assessment given to me. I challenge this not because I am weary of being labeled a psychopath, but because truth ultimately is more important than any diagnosis that I could receive. I would rather know certainty even if that is a blurred image than to see clearly an image that does not represent reality. That said, I have been unable to justify an abandonment of the name given to me by the one who has seen me no less than once a week for the past 3+ years.